The PEGIDA movement is spreading across Germany, accelerated by Merkel’s decision to open the country’s borders. This report travels between PEGIDA, aid volunteers and refugees to explore a widening political division.
In Dresden, the birthplace of PEGIDA, protesters convene at a square once named after Adolf Hitler to rally against the open-door policy of Angela Merkel. “She has no right to mix the German people, to create a new people, influenced by Islam”, explains Tatjana Festerling, the party’s second in command. “Merkel is the most dangerous woman in Europe.” Around 40,000 refugees came to Germany in just 6 weeks, but now German society appears to be increasingly polarised. Extensive support has been provided to refugees in Germany by the army, the Red Cross and volunteers. “It’s just humanity. It has nothing to do with being a German”, explains one volunteer. Yet even volunteers are becoming wary of the mass influx: “We do not know who is coming, that’s frightening”. Mikko Stübner-Lankuttis, who grew up in West Berlin, describes the collective German guilt that has been passed down to his generation: “For this reason alone we cannot refuse these refugees with a clear conscience”. As German TV presenter Anke Plättner describes, “It is engrained in us Germans: the cry of ‘never again'”. As past and present collide, Germany’s multicultural future hangs in the balance.